As the kickoff for Super Bowl LII took place in Minneapolis Minnesota, Americans across the country settled for the de facto national holiday where the most house parties are thrown on a single day each year. As for the football game in the middle of the spectacle, the narrative was that it would be a simple victory for the New England Patriots. The Philadelphia Eagles are a good enough football team to where an upset wasn’t out of the question, but certainly not expected. That’s the funny thing about the “Law of Any Given Sunday”. It dictates that anything can happen — even the Eagles winning 41-33 with quarterback Nick Foles emerging as the game’s MVP.
When Philly hit the field for the opening drive, Foles was mostly an afterthought in the hype as a backup. But he was precise, completing an array of passes to wide receivers like Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, running backs like Jay Ajay and Corey Clement and tight end Zach Ertz. Two of the catches were in a third-and-long situation to keep the chains moving. With the ball inside the Patriots five-yard line, Ertz jumped offsides and the Patriots held the then-flying Eagles to a 25-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jake Elliot.
Conversely, when the Eagles defense looked completely lost the first time Tom Brady and the New England offense hit the field. It felt inevitable that Brady to running back James White or tight end Rob Gronkowski would give the Patriots their first lead of the game. Yet in the red zone, Philadelphia forced the Pats to break out Stephen Gostkowski for a 26-yard chip shot to make it 3-3.
Three plays later, Foles went from field surgeon to sniper. The Eagles passer lobbed a 34-yard rainbow to Jeffery that put the Eagles up 9-3 after the missed extra point by Elliot. The Patriots tried to close the gap in the open of the second quarter with a field goal, but Gostkowski missed the 26-yard try.
As the period went on, the Pats had a turnover on downs on a series where receiver Danny Amendola failed to connect on a trick pass to Brady. (Which is to say that the alleged 2017 MYP dropped the pass). This was followed by Philly extending their lead on a touchdown drive capped by former Patriot LeGarrette Blount scampering for a 21-yard trip for six and the 15-3 lead. Blount smoked his old team for 14 carries and 90 yards with the aforementioned breaking of the plane.
New England responded with a second Gostkowski three-pointer from 45 out to make it 15-6, but the following series turned in the game’s first turnover. Foles fired another bomb where Jeffery was tied up and could only try to wrangle the ball in with one hand. As the ball flew up in the air, Duron Hamon snagged the interception inside the Philadelphia 10-yard line. Not bad for the guy who inexplicably took the place of the usual starter, Malcolm Butler.
Following Hamon’s play, New England was set to go three-and-out in their own red zone until a highly questionable holding call extended their drive. That third down conversion was turned into James White breaking arm tackles into the end zone for a score of 15-12 after Gostkowski shanked the point after attempt.
The Eagles took possession with a three-point lead to respond. Philly found themselves with a fourth-and-one on the doorstep of the end zone. Instead of taking the points with another short boot field goal, a flurry of backfield tosses and motions lead to tight end Trey Burton completing a score to Foles for his first career reception. That’s right — the quarterback caught the touchdown. The half closed 22-12 Eagles.
After the half, Gronkowski went from having one completion on the night to single-handedly abusing anyone wearing green to secure his first touchdown as if destiny dictated it with the tally in the contest at 22-19.
The teams then traded trips to the promised land to close the third quarter at 29-26. The running back Corey Clement hauled in a 22-yard pass from Foles whilst Chris Hogan got his hands on the ball in the end zone from 26 out on Brady’s throw. The rookie Clement recorded four catches for 100 yards to lead Philadelphia receivers while Hogen accounted for eight catches and 152 yards of his own as the top for his squad.
The final period started with the scoreboard at 32-26 after Elliot buried another three points from 42 yards. Gronk returned to the house for what was New England’s final points on the night for their first lead in the game, 33-32. That effort was good for four of his 116 yards on nine catches.
With 9:22 remaining in the contest, the Eagles put the weight of regaining the lead onto the wings of Foles. While one may have lost count of how many fans in Pennsylvania wondered, “if only Carson Wentz didn’t get hurt, would he win this game?” The question became moot has he hit Ertz on a go-ahead 11-yard reception that set the count at 38-32.
But nothing was in stone quite yet. Brady and New England’s offense had a full 2:22 remaining to pull another comeback for thin air. But when Bradon Grahm forced the NFL’s 2017 MVP to fumble the ball, all fans in the entire world realized that the empire was beginning to crumble. No trick play Bill Belichick could draw up could make the underdog rollover.
After Philly posted the final points in Super Bowl LII with one last wallop from Elliot from 46 to make it 41-33, even mathematics made a win by the Pats impossible right then. The best they could hope for was over time, but as the ball toppled to the earth on a final hail mary, that miracle would not come to pass.
Nick Foles went from contemplating football retirement to being the MVP of Super Bowl LII. Give credit to Brady who connected for 505 yards, but by night’s end, even that wasn’t enough to stop the Eagles from getting the Franchise’s first Lombardi trophy.